Planning a family safari can be quite a tricky affair. Sitting at home and churning out action-packed yarns about the wilderness is very much different than trying to harness the pent-up energy of the kids on an actual long game drive under the hot African sun.
That said, even though traveling with the young ones may occasionally feel like hard work, a safari in a country like Africa has so much to offer that the rewards far outnumber the efforts.
Here are some unique wild destinations for the forthcoming year, designed to keep the family welfare in mind.
10 Family Safari Destinations in Africa
Being malaria-free, there is no other country best suited for children of all ages than South Africa. Additionally, self-drive is permitted in most parks and they have excellent infrastructure which provides a solid ground for choosing this destination for your family safari holidays in Africa. The premier attraction of the country – Kruger National Park, apart from being home to the Big Five, has a wide range of stay options, like family suites, where guests can stay together and where kid-friendly activities, like animal tracking, etc are conducted on a regular basis.
If your kids are a bit older, above 8 years, then simply head to Kenya with your eyes shut. Exceptional wildlife experiences (like The Great Migration), rich cultural traditions and supreme beach spots means you can hit the surf and rejuvenate, as soon as you are through with the exciting, but strenuous, game drives. Activities include identifying bird calls and animal tracks, fishing, interaction with local Maasai, and discovering new cultures. The kids will have a ball at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and interaction with giraffes at the Langata Giraffe Sanctuary in Nairobi.
Tanzania is also a great country for a safari, because, in addition to the usual guided walks and open vehicle forays in the bush, one can ride on horseback to see wild animals from an entirely different perspective. Moreover, Tanzania is exceptionally safe, the wildlife reserves are some of the best in the world, as are the bush picnics, all of which go into making Tanzania a mega draw for children of all ages.
Home of the Okavango delta and the world-famous Chobe National Park, Botswana is a haven for family safaris, albeit with slightly grown-up children. This is primarily because the nature of the terrain is geared to activities like canoeing and bush walks, which are not ideal for younger children. Having said that, there is an abundance of wildlife that can be witnessed from close quarters, including massive herds of elephants, if you happen to be an elephant fan.
A visit to one of the world’s largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls on the mighty Zambezi river, is not only an awe inspiring spectacle but comes with tons of activities perfect for the whole family. If you make a reservation for the dry season of 2021, your family will be able to experience life in Devil’s Pool, on the waterfalls edge. Other activities include helicopter rides, white water rafting, bungee jumping, zip-lining, cultural visits and of course, wildlife safaris.
The Etosha National Park in Namibia is perfect for families and independent travelers. A large variety of tented and built up accommodation is available for overnight visitors. Children, especially, will love this safari destination, as besides the game drives which can provide sightings of lions, elephants, springbok and others, the children can frolic in swimming pools. Some lodges even feature a jungle gym, a kiddies section and sand pits. Another plus point for families is that self drive is permitted in a majority of the parks. With a good road system, traveling between parks is affordable and reduces the cost of a family trip.(The far north of Namibia is the malaria belt of Africa, as such children under six should not travel in this part of the country.)
A safari holiday with the whole family at the iconic Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda is a revelation. Apart from being the country’s most popular destination, the diverse ecosystem of the park harbors a classic amount of big game, ten primates and over 600 species of birds. Children will just be overawed by the lions lying under the fig trees, baboons frolicking in the grasslands and seeing the large concentration of hippos and Nile crocodiles in the 32 km long Kazinga water channel.The lodges have spacious rooms where the entire families can stay together, and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
When it comes to a raw and truly authentic family safari experience, do not look beyond Zimbabwe. Here families have a distinct advantage of going on private guided safari tours, ideal for a small group of four to six persons.These highly professional guides, stay with you for the entire duration of a safari, in a one of a kind remote area, which are bound to become popular in the next few years. The Manas Pools National Park and the adjacent Sepi Concession, are two such regions where the everyone can really enjoy and take part in the excitement of tracking and exploring some of the most pristine wilderness tracts of Africa.
A safari in Madagascar is a combination which portrays two different facets of the island nation, the richness of wildlife and the beautiful coastline of Anjajavy. Families will get enthralled with the thick forests, azure waters, and the untouched beauty of Madagascar. Some of the rarest animals on earth can be found in Analamazaotra Special Reserve, with distinct possibility of seeing the ring-tailed, common and wife ruffed lemurs along with the golden-colored Diademed Sifaka.
An Ethiopian safari is a sweet mix of ancient history and religion set amidst dramatic mountains and dizzy ravines. The trip begins at the Simien Mountains National Park, where the kids will love to explore the vast network of trails and meet wildlife species found nowhere else in the world, from the endangered Ethiopian Wolf to the shy gelada baboons. Keep an eye for the wild goats and the very rare Abyssinian wolf. Your next destination will be the famous Bale Mountain National Park, the last abode of the enigmatic Ethiopian wolf, in the south-central highlands of the country. The lodges are family-friendly, comfortable, warm, and serve home-cooked meals.
A family vacation, these days, is no longer packing the kids in the back of the car and heading to the nearest beach. These holidays have since grown in stature and viewing wild animals in their habitat has become the fascination of families all over the world.